Sauber test driver Sirotkin calls de Silvestro a “marketing move”

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Sergey Sirotkin has said that he is not concerned about fellow Sauber test driver Simona de Silvestro, calling her a “marketing move”.

Sirotkin joined Sauber midway through last season as a reserve driver with the view of claiming a full-time seat in 2014. At the time, he was just 17 years old, and due to become the youngest driver in the history of Formula 1 had he started a race.

However, the plans did not materialize. Some of the investment that came with his signing fell through, and Sauber eventually opted to retain Esteban Gutierrez and sign Adrian Sutil from Force India.

For 2015, there is a five-way fight for two seats at Sauber. As well as Sirotkin, Gutierrez and Sutil, former IndyCar driver Simona de Silvestro has been signed with plans to give her a full-time drive in 2015. So far, she has taken part in two tests for the team, with the most recent being yesterday in Spain.

The fifth driver in the running is Giedo van der Garde. The Dutch driver spent a season at Caterham in 2013 before joining Sauber for this season, and also has sights on a full-time seat at the Swiss team in 2015.

For Sirotkin, van der Garde is his biggest rival for a seat, dubbing de Silvestro a “marketing move”.

“At Sauber there is a third driver, Giedo van der Garde, a test driver, myself, and a sponsored driver, the person they are helping to reach the level of Formula 1,” Sirotkin explained to Russian website F1News.ru.

“But I think that is a marketing move, so I do not take it as something to be afraid of. Let’s see what happens.”

Sirotkin also went on to reveal that he is due to take part in practice for the Russian Grand Prix in October.

“I was actually supposed to participate in free practice not only in Sochi, but it is an open question,” he said. “Obviously, in terms of marketing, public interest and so on, the logical thing is to do it in Sochi, but we cannot yet say whether this will happen in Sochi or the next track.

“At the moment, my priority is World Series by Renault, so I do not plan to give preference to other cases in F1 if they can complicate my task or hinder my performance in this championship. It may give the impression that there was a lull but, in fact, it is not.”

Sirotkin’s performances in World Series by Renault over the past three years have been largely underwhelming, and he is probably the least suitable driver of the five in the running for the seat at Sauber. The irony of his comments is that without his backing, it is unlikely that he would be close to a Formula 1 seat.

For the time being though, the fight for the seats at Sauber remains open. With no points to show of so far in 2014, the team will be hoping that Sutil and Gutierrez can secure a top ten finish at some point soon to kick-start its campaign.

Al Unser Jr. back in IndyCar after a decade away: ‘Life is very good’

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There’s been somewhat of a hole in Al Unser Jr.’s heart ever since he retired from racing in 2007.

It was a void, something was missing.

But now, after a decade away from racing, Unser has found the right medicine to fill that hole in his heart: he’s back in the racing game again.

No, he’s not driving again (although he does participate occasionally in vintage races), but the two-time Indianapolis 500 (1992 and 1994) winner is definitely back in the IndyCar world.

And he couldn’t be happier.

“For me, it’s a dream come true,” Unser told IndyCar.com. “Since I stepped out of the race car and retired from racing, there’s been something missing from my life, and it’s racing.”

Unser has hooked up with Harding Racing. The team competed in three races last season as a ramp-up for a full 17-race effort this season. While Unser’s official title with the team is “consultant,” he’s involved in so much more.

His main role is as a driving coach to 2015 IndyCar Rookie of the Year Gabby Chaves. But he’s also involved in so many other areas, including helping the team obtain sponsorships and much more.

He then added, “I’m involved in every sense of the word except actually driving the car. And I’m happy about that because I’m too old to drive the car.”

Unser, who won CART championships in 1990 and 1994, is now 55. He’s so involved with his new job that he even moved from his native New Mexico and has relocated to suburban Indianapolis.

Not only is it a new start for Unser, it also is for Chaves. After running all 16 races in 2015 for Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian, he competed in just seven races for Dale Coyne Racing in 2016 and only three races for Harding Racing last season.

But he definitely impressed the team, with a fifth- (Texas) and ninth-place (Indianapolis 500) finish in the first two races and 15th (Pocono) in the team’s final run of the season.

That’s why when Harding Racing decided to go fulltime in 2018, Chaves was their pick for behind the wheel. And Unser was their pick to help guide him to potential stardom in the series.

“(Team owner) Mike Harding is definitely a person that when he decides to do something, he does it right,” Unser told IndyCar.com. “The potential for this organization is through the sky. We’re all working really hard here and we see the potential.”

And as for Unser?

“Life is good, life is very good,” he told IndyCar.com. “We’re back full force, eager and better than ever.”

Click here for the full story about Unser from IndyCar.com.